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29
Mar

Padilla La Pilar Toro

Origin : HondurasPadilla cigars
Format : Toro
Size : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Ecuador Habano Oscuro
Filler : Nicaraguan and Dominican
Binder : Nicaraguan
Hand-Made
Price : ~$6 each
More info about purchasing Padilla La Pilar cigars…

La Pilar was a new line unveiled at the 2015 IPCPR by Padilla Cigars. For this blend, Ernesto Padilla returned to Honduras to produce the cigars at Tabacalera Aguilar, which was the same factory that produced the Padilla Series 68. There are three different sizes available: the Toro, measuring 6 x 52, the Robusto, measuring 5 x 54, and the Churchill, measuring 7.5 x 57.

Appearance : 4 out of 5 stars
On the whole, this is a nice-looking cigar, but I do spot a couple flaws. I’m not sure if this is a common problem or if it was just a fluke. There are spots where the leaf has been wrinkled a bit. It is not a big deal, but it is an imperfection. Otherwise, the cigar has very few veins and a smooth appearance. The box press shape is of course distinctive, and the triple cap is just perfect.

Construction : 3.5 out of 5 stars
The draw of the cigar is a little bit tight, but not too tight. If it had been just slightly looser I would have said it was perfect. The burn for the most part was razor sharp, but I did feel that it burned a bit fast.

Flavor : 3 out of 5 stars
At first this cigar seemed like it might be a mild one, but after a few puffs I could tell that the strength would be closer to medium. During the first third, the most prominent note is pepper. I’m not sure if it is white pepper or red pepper, but there are lots of it. There is also an undertone of earth. There is not a lot of metamorphosis in the second half. Most of the same flavors are still present, but now I get some cocoa and coffee and something kind of generically sweet. The final third also features very little in the way of change, though there is something vegetal at the end. I couldn’t say for sure what.

I cannot say that the flavors in the Padilla La Pilar are unpleasant. They are quite nice in their way. But they are a bit generic and hard to pinpoint. I couldn’t pick up too many distinctive notes. I guess you could argue that means the stogie is well-blended, but to me it was just nondescript. A little more in the way of change would have been nice too. I kept expecting something new and it was basically just more of the same down to the nub.

Value : 3.5 out of 5 stars
One thing I cannot complain about is the low price. At $6 a stick, these are plenty easy on your wallet, so if you like them, a box will not cost you too much.

Overall Rating : 3.5 out of 5 stars
I wanted to be a little more impressed with the Padilla La Pilar Toro. The flavors were pleasant, but they just didn’t stand out, and they were too repetitious to hold my attention. The flaw in the wrapper leaf and the slightly-tight draw also detracted from the experience, though I recognize these may have been flukes. There are people who will really enjoy this cigar, but it just wasn’t the right flavor profile for me.

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Padilla La Pilar Toro

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13
Feb

Oliva Connecticut Reserve #1

Oliva CigarsOrigin : Nicaragua
Format : Toro
Size : 6 x 50
Wrapper : Connecticut Shade Ecuador
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : ~$5 each
More info about purchasing Oliva Connecticut Reserve cigars…

To meet the needs of their milder cigar fans, in 2008 the Oliva Cigar Company blended and debuted the Oliva Connecticut Reserve line. The line is available in the following sizes: Robusto 5 x 50; Toro 6 X 50; Churchill / Double Corona 7 X 50; Torpedo 6.5 X 52; Lonsdale 6.25 X 44; Double Toro 6 x 60; Petit Corona 4 x 38.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve #2

The Oliva Connecticut Reserve bore a golden brown wrapper that had a dry look and feel to it. The Connecticut wrapper also had lots of veins and seemed to be stretched around the binder and filler bunch. The perfectly round cap was extremely well constructed. Pre-light smell was a wheat and honey sweetness and the cold draw showed a perfect resistance with no defining tastes.

Pre-light score: 8 pts.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve #3

The opening of the Oliva Connecticut Reserve was nice and mild. Draw and burn were perfect with an ash that proved to be a powdery gray. Notes of wood and grain are found on the palate with absolutely no pepper or spice at all. A very smooth experience.

During the second third the cigar’s performance proved still to be outstanding. The cigar remained mild, which is not my 1st preference in cigar body, however the change of pace proved to be very much enjoyable. The tasting still showed woodiness but added a light chocolate moose that lingered in and out.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve #4

The final third of the Oliva Connecticut had a memorizing bready aroma. The tastes became a little harsh with notes of charcoal being evident in the final third. The woody notes remained through the finish and the cigar ended with a brilliant mild vanilla taste.

Smoking score: 9 pts.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve #7

Since the release of the Oliva Serie V line I must admit to having been partial to reaching for that rich full bodied experience offered in the V Series. However, now that I have been introduced to the Connecticut Reserve I certainly have a slight change of heart. If you are looking for a nice mellow, mild cigar experience that shows sweet wood and dessert characteristics this is the stick for you. Even though it is light in body the Connecticut Reserve is still a very enjoyable smoke. For the price I suggest you pick a few up.

Overall Experience score: 9 pts.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve Rating

Pre-Light: 8 pts.
Smoking: 9 pts.
Overall Exp.: 9 pts.

TOTAL: 26 pts.

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Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro

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27
Aug

H. Upmann Legacy Toro

Origin : HondurasH. Upmann
Format : Toro
Size : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler : Nicaraguan & Dominican
Binder : Nicaraguan
Hand-Made
Price : ~$7 each
More info about purchasing H. Upmann Legacy cigars…

I’ve never smoked an Upmann from outside of Cuba before so I decided to finally give these sticks a try. On the recommendation of a friend I decided to purchase a couple Legacy Toros on a recent visit to the US. The following was my experience.

Appearance : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
The cigar sports two bands. A primary band and a secondary band at the foot. I’m not particularly fond of the appearance of the bands. The H. Upmann Legacy Toro had a somewhat rustic appearance with visible veining and raised visible seams. The wrapper itself had a nice oily sheen to it. There were some minor flaws at the double cap that were immediately spotted.

H. Upmann Legacy Toro

Construction : 3 out of 5 stars
The cigar wrapper was extremely fragile. It cracked when I snipped it and, as you can see in the photograph, there was far too much adhesive used at the band of the foot causing a large chunk of the wrapper to remain on the band. I still don’t know why manufacturers insist on these secondary foot bands when they pack their sticks in cellophane. The wrapper continued to crack on occasion during smoking.

Thankfully, the burn was for the most part even. The draw was good and only one minor touch up was needed past the halfway mark. The ash remained firm and was never an issue.

Flavor : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
Pre-light, the cigar had a sweet, pleasant and almost floral aroma. Hints of sweet wood, tea and natural tobacco. The pre-light draw revealed interesting notes of dried figs/dates, tea, sweet cedar and a touch of spice.

The first third of the Legacy offered up a lot of smoke that can best be described as silky, creamy and sweet. Flavors were mainly sweet wood with dried fruit and occasional hints of caramel. Black pepper was noticeable but not overwhelming. There were hints of tea and sweet earthy notes with the smoke itself having a creamy texture to it. The finish was medium to long with an almost cinnamon-like heat lingering at the end.

The second third offered up more of the same but with a little less spice and a little less dried fruit, instead, there was an increase in the grassy notes of the cigar with some mustiness noticeable on occasion. Overall it remained sweet and consistent with the first third. There were occasional hints of bitterness but never too extreme as to detract from the experience.

As I passed the halfway mark the cigar continued to give off pleasant sweet notes of dried fruit, sweet cedar, earth, hints of tea and some caramel like aftertaste. At this point there was no spice at all detectable in the finish. The smoke continued to have a silky sweet texture to it. There were some increased woodsy and grassy notes on the finish.

The final third offered more of the same. I continued to get thick clouds of smoke with hints of dried fruit, figs and some grassy notes on my palate. A little spice returned to the back of the palate and the finish remained medium to long and mainly sweet with a little creamier texture to the smoke. There was the occasional bitter note but perhaps this was somewhat exaggerated by the fact that the cigar is quite sweet so any semi-sweet areas can trick your palate into thinking that the cigar was bitter.

From the band onwards there was a noticeable decline in sweetness and much of the dried fruit and velvety creaminess was gone. The cigar was at this point mainly grassy and earthy with hints of bitter tea and leather. Sensing warmer smoke and declining flavors I laid it to rest.

Value : 4.5 out of 5 stars
It’s hard to argue with a cigar that gave me an hour and a half of a mainly enjoyable experience for less than $7.00. Still not the cheapest Toro out there but all things considered, the cigar offered up a mainly enjoyable experience.

Overall Rating : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
The H. Upmann Legacy is a sweeter cigar that is mild to medium in strength and medium to full bodied in flavor at its peak but the flavor does tend to drop off and disappear at times, leaving only natural tobacco. When you do get the flavors though they are pleasing and enjoyable and more on the sweeter side. It has fantastic smoke output and, for the most part, an even burn. It won’t overwhelm you with spice or bitterness and will give you well over an hour of a mainly enjoyable experience.

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H. Upmann Legacy Toro

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01
Aug

Rocky Patel Private Cellar

Rocky PatelOrigin : Nicaragua
Format : Toro
Size : 6.5 x 52
Wrapper : Nicaragua
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : ~$8.50 each
More info about purchasing Rocky Patel Private Cellar cigars…

The Rocky Patel Private Cellar is one of Patel’s newest cigars released for distribution in the summer of 2012. The Rocky Patel Company promotes this cigar as a medium-bodied one but I personally found it a bit on the milder side but perhaps this may be skewed a bit since I normally smoke strong cigars.

The blend for this cigar is made up of primarily tobacco grown in Nicaragua and is wrapped with a very rustic and, in my own personal opinion, ugly-looking Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. The cigars themselves are manufactured at Patel’s Tavicusa factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Appearance : 2.5 out of 5 stars
It is often said we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouth and cigar smoking is no different. At first glance, this cigar looks very rustic with a nice dark oily sheen wrapper but admittedly very rustic and veiny in appearance.

I liked the color of the band and the packaging (which adds to the cost of the cigar). The cigar comes with a second band promoting the cigar as the Private Cellar. As I said though, despite the nice oily sheen to the wrapper, the cigar had many visible and distracting veins which perhaps explained why the burn was so uneven during my smoke. The cigar looked a tad rushed in construction as evidenced in the photographs. The foot looked a little squished and the press and roll did not appear consistent. There were a lot of distracting veins in the cigar but the seams were only slightly visible and tight.

Rocky Patel Private Cellar Appearance

Construction : 2.5 out of 5 stars
The cigar was extremely spongy to the touch despite being stored, as all my other cigars, at an RH of 68%. As can be seen on the photograph of the foot, it appeared as though less tobacco than normal was used. Maybe this was done on purpose but I have smoked many Patels and this by far felt like the spongiest of them all. This led to the cigar burning a bit quicker than most Toros but the smoke always remained cool. The cigar did extinguish itself about halfway through and needed touch-ups along the way both to keep it lit and to correct the burn.

The ash was a white/brown color and extremely flaky, usually falling off at between half an inch to an inch. It needed 3 touch-ups, the second sample needed 4. I had a feeling the loosely packed tobacco would affect the burn and it did. Thankfully the draw was for the most part good and the smoke was cool and thick.

Overall I got the impression just by examining the cigar and the way it smoked that it was rushed in its construction. For a cigar bearing Patel’s Private Cellar label and promoted as being Patel’s optimal blend, one would think a little more care should have been taken in the cigar’s manufacturing. Perhaps it might be time to acknowledge that this is one of those brands that has followed the path of many others by simply producing too many cigar lines resulting in construction issues as workers rush to get out the many different blends offered.

Flavor : 3 out of 5 stars
This cigar overall was of medium strength and medium body. I smoked two of these to get a good feel of the cigar. They were consistent but both average.

The pre-light aroma of the RP Private Cellar was pleasing. Natural tobacco with some earthy woodsy notes. The cigar held up well to my straight guillotine cut. The pre-light draw offered little in the way of resistance (a little too open for my liking) but offered pleasing hints of roasted coffee, cocoa and leather.

The first third evidenced some dark cocoa, roasted espresso, earth and some nuttiness. The spice was very faint and in fact was very tough to even notice. Exhaling from my nose wasn’t uncomfortable at all and allowed for a little more spice to enter the profile. For the most part, the cigar lacked any complexity. What you got from the start of the cigar is what you got near the end with one exceptio … there did tend to be a slight increase in spice as you worked your way down the cigar. It wasn’t an overwhelming black pepper like spice though, instead, more of a spicy pepper. It remained mild and never got overpowering.

The second third offered much of the same as the first third with a tad more toasted nuttiness noticeable with occasional sweetness that resembled some black currant or raisins. Just a touch of salt was on the lips and the finish remained short to medium. The smoke output remained good, not exceptional.

The final third had a little bit more spice but much of the same flavors. If asked to describe the primary flavor I would have to say that it was an earthy cigar with plenty of woodsy notes. It reminded me of a walk in the forest at dawn. Secondary flavors were roasted espresso bean, dark cocoa with only very occasional hints of sweetness.
The smoke was average and far from great. It lacked real texture or enough flavor dynamic or complexity to keep my interest. For the most part it only gave tobacco aromas with none of the velvety richness that I’ve gotten from some of Patel’s other blends.

Value : 3 out of 5 stars
This cigar isn’t cheap because of whom it’s made by. Online, before shipping, prices range from around $8.50 per stick if buying a 5 pack to as much as $9.30. I did find one online retailer selling them for $7.90 per stick only if buying a box of 20. I have also seen them in stores for as much as $9.50 per stick which is understandable given overhead costs associated to operating a store. I cannot recommend this cigar for this price given there are many more enjoyable cigars out there in this price range.

Overall Rating : 3 out of 5 stars
The flavors of the Rocky Patel Private Cellar Toro were “average”. It wasn’t a complete waste but it wasn’t a complete “wow” either. I would say it was a middle of the road smoke that I really couldn’t complain about (other than the price) but one that did not leave me with any reason to have another. I have a couple of Robustos in this blend that I will be reviewing shortly. I’m curious to see of the different size changes the flavors. This would make a daily smoke if the price wasn’t so high.

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Rocky Patel Private Cellar Toro

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04
Apr

La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros Toro

Origin : Dominican RepublicLa Gloria Cubana
Format : Toro
Size : 6.0″ x 50
Wrapper : Connecticut Shade/Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler : Dominican and Honduran
Binder : Secret
Hand-Made
Price : $7 each
More info about purchasing LGC Artesanos de Tabaqueros…

La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros Toro is a bit gimmicky but it does exactly what it is advertised to do. This cigar uses two wrappers, a Connecticut Shade wrapper at the foot with an abrupt transition to an Ecuadorian grown Sumatran wrapper for about the last 2/3rds of the cigar. It starts off fairly mild with creamy coffee notes and a bit of hay and then picks up in strength and body once you hit the Sumatran wrapper where there is a bit of pepper and leather and earth with what I thought was a slightly overbearing finish. Maybe even a little harsh at times. I found it to be a well made cigar. The burn was amazingly slow. It took a long time to smoke this Toro. I’d rate this stogie overall as “good”.

There was something about the two wrapper setup and that transition from the mild smoke to a more medium bodied experience that I am unsure about. I cannot put my finger on it, but it is different from the changes and nuances of a well blended and complex cigar that only uses one wrapper. I’ve struggled with it but haven’t come up with a good explanation for my feeling on it. Still, this LGC is a decent smoke and the gimmick is legit and so it it is worth trying at least once for the experience.

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La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros Toro

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08
Jan

The Recluse Toro

Origin : Dominican RepublicRecluse cigars
Format : Toro
Size : 6 1/4 x 50
Wrapper : Brazilian Maduro
Filler : Dominican
Binder : Cameroon
Hand-Made
Price : $7.80

Back in the Summer of last year I was sent a couple of pre-release cigars to review from Iconic Leaf Cigar Company, a relative newcomer to the cigar industry. The “Toro” cigar I was sent was actually quite enjoyable, something rare for a new name. Normally, based on my experience, new cigar companies are either dreadful out of the box or need a few years to turn an average cigar into one with promise. Very rarely does one come out of the gate with such promise. I was sincere in my rating of the cigar in giving it 4 stars out of 5 in my review back in August 2012.

A month and a half back I was sent a production version of the cigar, fully banded (the pre-release sample came unbanded) so I thought I would give it another try and update my review.

The original review is still up and should be checked out for a more in-depth commentary of the cigar itself. What follows are my additional comments on the Toro from Iconic Leaf.

When I wrote that review I commented on the construction of the cigar. I noted that the cigar had a very comfortable draw and the burn was exceptional. The smoke output was nice. I made a deduction for stem particles in the cigar as noted in the accompanying photographs in that review.

To their credit, the fine folks at Iconic Leaf left the following reply in the comments section.

“I would like to offer a few words. I would like to clarify something in regards to stem paticles and how they relate to the TRUE entubado method of rolling a cigar. Some have claimed to roll using entubado but in doing so they take the filler leaves and flatten them all together and then roll them all at once like a news paper and that is their version of entubado. True entubado is actually taking each filler leaf and tubing it individually which is what we do. It is very time consuming and you cannot make as many cigars which in turn increases labor cost. In order to roll using True entubado you need enough of a piece of filler to roll it into a tube. with some viso and almost all ligero, which are the smallest leaves on the plant except for the medio tiempo, you cannot do True entubado without using the whole leaf because it is too small to roll an adequate tube with only half.” – Don Jose Raphael

With that said, I now have a firmer understanding of the process and can forgive them for what I deemed to stem particles. While I don’t like seeing them (personal preference) I now understand why they are there. I doubt that it impacts the flavour at all. As such, I think it is only fair that my rating for the cigar’s construction be revised from a 4 out 5 to 4.25 out of 5.

Also, I have now had the pleasure of smoking a final release of the cigar. The flavour as described in my original review remained consistent, which is a good thing. As a cigar smoker, I like to have consistency in the flavour profiles of the cigars I smoke. I want to know what I am getting when I reach for a particular cigar out of the humidor.

I must be completely honest with this review and if there was one drawback with the banded cigars that were sent to me it was with the appearance of the cigar. For reasons I cannot explain, the production version of the cigars that were sent to me appeared to have more visible veins and the seams were also a tad more visible. Also, it would be advisable to pay a little more attention to the application of the cap as the samples recently received did not appear to be as meticulously applied as the first pre-release samples. The band on one of the two retail samples was wrinkled so a little more care in the “details” is advisable. This is important for a cigar company looking to gain the attention of cigar smokers who are a finicky bunch and usually tied to their favourite brands. Making a stunning cigar, one that smokers want to buy, that shines out from the multitude of different brands is important. I’m also not crazy about the band of the cigar. It looks a little too simple for my taste.

Admittedly these comments may come across as petty but like the food we eat, cigar smokers like to be impressed when they hold a cigar in their hand and these little flaws, while petty to some, are important to aficionados like myself. As such, I had no choice but to make a quarter deduction for the appearance of the cigar so my revised appearance rating for the production version of this cigar is 3.75 out of 5.

As far as the taste, arguably the most important aspect of any cigar review, I am pleased to report that the production sample was more balanced and as such earned an increase in rating to 4.25 out of 5 from the previous rating of 4. The spice that appeared to be overwhelming at times in the pre-release samples was not as powerful making the cigar more enjoyable. I noted in my last review that some of the cayenne-type spice at times masked the flavors of the cigar. I did not find any such issues with being overwhelmed by spice in these production samples and the flavors discussed in my last review were allowed to shine to the forefront more. Perhaps the additional rest had a little to do with the mellowing of this. Being quite young, I imagine that some of these more overpowering aspects will continue to mellow.

The overall rating of the cigar therefore increased to 4.06 out of 5 on my grading scale which is saying a lot because in my tastings, it still rated higher than the cigar of the year (Prensado Churchill) in the category that counts… flavor. The flavors associated with the Recluse Toro are quite enjoyable and deserve to be sampled by cigar lovers looking for something new and something different.

I give kudos to the Iconic Leaf Cigar Company. I really think they have something with the Recluse and I maintain my earlier statement that we can expect to hear some good things about this company in the future as more cigar smokers become exposed to their cigars. They must be commended with coming out of the gate with a very worthy cigar.
I was recently sent a couple of samples of their latest shape, something quite different and an invention of theirs, the “Kanú”. Watch out for this review at a later date once I have had a chance to let these cigars stabilize and rest for a little bit in my humidor.

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The Recluse Toro (Update)

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22
Aug

The Recluse Toro

Origin : Dominican RepublicRecluse cigars
Format : Toro
Size : 6 1/4 x 50
Wrapper : Brazilian Maduro
Filler : Dominican
Binder : Cameroon
Hand-Made
Price : $7.80

I was recently sent a couple of pre-release cigars to review from Iconic Leaf Cigar Company, a relative newcomer to the cigar industry. According to the company’s literature, Iconic Leaf Cigar was founded by two very well-known and well-respected legends in the cigar industry who have chosen to remain anonymous in their pursuit to make the very best premium boutique cigars that can be found anywhere in the world without the influence of their names. Iconic Leaf Cigar’s founders may have chosen to keep their identities private but their leader has not. Led by J.R. Dominguez, son of legendary cigar maker Jose Dominguez, Iconic Leaf is extremely excited about their new line-up of cigars recently unveiled at the IPCPR trade show in Orlando. According to the company, all tobacco leaf in the RECLUSE goes through EIGHT fermentation cycles and is a collection of what they deem to be “truly iconic leaf” from around the world. The RECLUSE cigar selection is produced exclusively at the Leyendas Cubanas factory run by Don Jose Rafael.

First, a little bit about the Recluse cigar straight from their website:

The RECLUSE cigar is comprised of the absolute finest of everything. From the seed that is sown, to the blend of the tobacco leaves that make up this masterpiece, to the painstaking fermentation. Under the watchful eye of the maestro, Don Jose Rafael in the Leyendas Cubanas factory, each cigar goes through a Club Med for cigars, if you will. Each leaf is hand selected from only the finest tobacco leaves of the harvest. From the Flavorful and smooth Brazilian Maduro wrapper and Cameroon binder, to the specifically selected Dominican leaf variations in the filler, these cigars are what we believe to be the finest in the world. Each and every leaf in the RECLUSE goes through EIGHT fermentation cycles. Why? Because Don Jose Rafael will not settle for mediocrity. Every RECLUSE is rolled in the old Cuban tradition of tubing which is taking each filler leaf and rolling it into a tube instead of folding it. Once all the filler leaves are each individually rolled into a tube shape, they are brought together and surrounded with the binder. This is time consuming but creates an effortless draw and an unparalleled smoking experience. We then box press each cigar to compress the leaf and reduce air space. This spotlights the flavors of the blend and creates a slower burn while delivering an exceptional draw. The RECLUSE line is offered in ten box pressed sizes.

Having been sent a couple of unbanded Toros to sample, I wanted to be fair to the company so I let them sit in my humidor for a couple of weeks to stabilize and acclimate themselves following the shipping. I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to taste one and last night decided that the Recluse would be my cigar of choice. Pictures of the bands, provided by the company, can be seen in the attached images. I chose to smoke my sample with a straight cut.

Appearance : 4 out of 5 stars
This cigar is a 6.25 x 50 box-pressed toro. The sample photographed is the actual cigar I smoked for this review. It has a beautiful oily Brazilian maduro wrapper. The seams were visible and the wrapper had some thick visible veins. The cap looked a tad sloppily applied. The Recluse was firm to the touch with no noticeable soft spots. Its pre-light aroma was a very pleasing woodsy/cocoa and the foot had a very pleasing natural tobacco/woodsy scent. The box press makes the cigar’s stated 50 ring gauge appear smaller. It felt firm in my hands and was very comfortable to hold and smoke.

The Recluse Toro

Construction : 4 out of 5 stars
This cigar burned flawlessly. Not once did I need to correct the burn and, more importantly, I never had to re-light it. If the burn wavered now and then it was very short-lived and corrected itself almost as quickly as it went wonky. The Recluse exhumed tons of thick white smoke. The ash was firm, white and only occasionally was there any flaking. The draw was effortless and remained so during the entire duration of the smoke. The deduction was for stem particles I noticed in my cigar when I snipped the cap off that you can see in the photo below. Although they did not impact the draw or burn, seeing any stem particles in my cigars is unacceptable for me.

The Recluse Toro

Flavor : 4 out of 5 stars
I was hit with spice and cocoa on lighting the cigar. There were hints of oak and earth. The cigar let off a very pleasing velvety, caramelized smoke. Let us not mistake the spice for peppery spice for it is certainly not. The spice is best described as a cayenne-like heat. At times it was overpowering, however at the outset it was mild enough to be tolerable and went well with the velvety cocoa, leather and woodsy flavors I was getting from the cigar. Caramel, cocoa, leather with woodsy hints were the predominant flavors in the first third. The finish was long thanks to the spice. The spice would remain at the top of my mouth and at the back of my throat from puff to puff, never really leaving.

The volume of smoke seemed to intensify as I smoked it. Nice thick clouds of white smoke with a firm ash and even burn. I like voluminous smoke with my cigar and this one does not disappoint in that regard. The smoke was made all the more enjoyable because of its velvety/oily texture.

As I started the second third I started to pick up hints of salt on my lips that helped to balance the sweet cocoa notes. The finish was shorter than the first third as some of the overpowering spice I encountered in the first third subsided. As I neared the middle of the cigar I picked up hints of dark, bitter chocolate and unsweetened espresso. This bitterness did not last long though but was strong enough to leave an unfavourable impression. Thankfully this bitterness quickly evolved into a a toasted nuttiness. I continued to pick up woodsy, leathery notes. As I approached the end of the second third some of the spice that had decreased earlier started to re-emerge.

The slight salty hint on my palate remained as I started the final third and the finish became longer thanks to the re-emergence of that spice. The cayenne-like heat returned and lingered on my pallet right about the time I started to feel the nicotine. The spice helped to lengthen the finish but admittedly at times this spice was a tad too much for my taste. Woodsy notes with aromatic cocoa were the predominant flavors. The bitterness that crept in at the centre of the cigar never returned.

As I neared the middle of the final third the cigar gave me hints of semi-sweet chocolate, caramel and oak with a very pleasing natural tobacco flavor. The aforementioned cayenne like spice intensified. The finish remained long, the spice remained very noticeable and at times was overwhelming and distracting. I feel like some of that spice masked some of the flavors. At times I could not pick up any discernable flavors because I was battling the spice. The final third provided the most intense flavors and when the spicy notes weren’t getting in the way the flavors were pleasant.

Wood, leather and spicy cocoa with hints of caramel and coffee were my lasting impressions of this well-constructed cigar. I loved its smoke output.

This cigar was certainly complex. If it had a drawback for me it was that at times the flavors were very muted while at other times the spice was a tad overwhelming and distracting. It didn’t have that nice flow I look for in a complex cigar. However, it certainly had enough of a variety of flavors going on and Iconic Leaf must be commended for putting together a very well built cigar with enough of a flavor profile to keep my interest.

I put the cigar to rest with approximately 2 inches remaining because the spice became too overpowering. Had it not been for the spice, I would most probably have smoked this down to the nub.

Overall strength was medium with the flavor profile being complex and medium to full-bodied.

Although the cigar was a pleasure to smoke, deductions were made for the at times overwhelming spice, the fact that there were times when the cigar exhibited almost no flavor, for the mediocre flavor transitions. When the flavor was on however, it was “on” and made for a very enjoyable smoke indeed.

Value : 4 out of 5 stars
Remember, I did not pay for this cigar, however the company confirmed with me that their suggested MSRP for the Recluse Toro is $7.80 per cigar and at that price, this cigar offers exceptional value for the quality of the smoke. It certainly does not command the “boutique” cigar prices out there today and in blind tastings can give many other more expensive maduros from more familiar names in the industry a run for their money. There is no doubt that they have come into the market with a competitive price point.

Overall Rating : 4 out of 5 stars
This cigar surprised me in a good way. There are more expensive cigars out there that aren’t worth the money. Keeping in mind that taste is purely subjective and what smokers prefer in their cigar varies from smoker to smoker, I can honestly say that I enjoyed this cigar more than the Cigar Aficionado Cigar of the Year Prensado by Alec Bradley and if Iconic Leaf can maintain their price point it would surely command a spot in anyone’s humidor who enjoys a nice Maduro cigar. The key for Iconic Leaf will be in getting their brand to be recognized. If I had two complaints with this cigar they are that at times the spice was a tad overwhelming and, as well, there was the odd time during my smoke where the cigar seemed to exhume no flavor at all other than tobacco but this latter complaint was short lived. Furthermore, I know they are fairly new but there should never be any stem particles in a hand-made cigar and I am sure that this was just a one time deal and not reflective of their effort to make a fine boutique cigar because I feel they have succeeded in doing so. I think we will see and hear a lot from this cigar company in the coming months and I feel honoured to have had the chance to smoke their pre-release sample.

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The Recluse Toro

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10
Oct

href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/cigar/j-fuego-sangre-de-toro-b.jpg" rel="lightbox" title="J. Fuego Sangre de Toro Original"> class="aligncenter" src="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/cigar/j-fuego-sangre-de-toro.jpg" alt="J. Fuego Sangre de Toro Original" width="450" height="340">

Origin : Honduras src="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/brand/j-fuego.gif" alt="J. Fuego Cigars" class="alignright" width="170" height="126" /> /> Format : Original/Cheroot /> Size : 5 x 44 /> Wrapper : Nicaraguan Colorado /> Filler : Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo /> Binder : Nicaraguan Criollo /> Hand-Made /> Price : ~$2 each /> href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/buy-j-fuego" class="extravaganza" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">More info about purchasing J. Fuego cigars…

J. Fuego is one of a number of relatively new, “boutique” cigar brands that are taking the cigar world by storm. Founded just a few years ago in 2006 by Jesus Fuego (whose familial involvement in the cigar industry extends all the way back to 1876 in Cuba), the J. Fuego brand has quickly expanded to include five different lines, as well as the spin-off 777 brand. Sangre de Toro (which translates to “Bull’s Blood”) is the newest line, released in Spring 2011, and the Original is the newest vitola, released at ICPCR 2011. Jesus Fuego has described the tobacco used in the Sangre de Toro line as “heavy and well-aged stuff,” and the Original vitola showcases all the richness that this tobacco can deliver. The Originals come five to a soft pack, and the very attractive design on the pack mimics the design on the Sangre de Toro bands; however, the Originals themselves are unbanded.

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Appearance : 3 out of 5 stars /> The Sangre de Toro line was named for the reddish hue of its wrapper, which someone in the marketing department apparently thought was similar to blood. While the wrapper color is striking, it’s the only part of this cigar that has any visual appeal. The Original is a rustic cheroot, and a visual inspection reveals a number of bulges, veins, noticeable seams, and a mottled wrapper. The wrapper is also torn in one place, but it is the only tear out of the five cigars in my soft pack so I’m not downgrading the cigar just for that. I would be tempted to give just one star for appearance, but the Originals showcase an innate skill hidden behind their rustic appearance–these cheroots are free-rolled by hand without any molds, and their taper, from about 30 at the head to 44 in the middle to about 34 at the foot, evidences rollers with a remarkable degree of skill.

Construction : 3 out of 5 stars /> The Original had a very loose draw, and since the Originals come pre-cut, there wasn’t much I could do about it. The packing at both the head and foot also looked very loose. This looseness resulted in the ability to only take small sips while smoking in order to avoid overheating. However, even with the small sips, the smoke was plentiful. The cigar burned generally straight and never required a touch-up, but the ash was flaky.

href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/cigar/j-fuego-sangre-de-toro-1b.jpg" rel="lightbox" title="J. Fuego Sangre de Toro Original"> class="aligncenter" src="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/cigar/j-fuego-sangre-de-toro-1.jpg" alt="J. Fuego Sangre de Toro Original" width="450" height="181">

Flavor : 4.5 out of 5 stars /> One word sums up the flavors: RICH. The word “rich” shows up seven times in my tasting notes, and it should probably be in there even more. Pre-light, the cigar smelled very strongly of earth and tobacco, and the cold draw was pure tobacco. After lighting, the first puffs filled my mouth with plentiful smoke that tasted of extremely rich tobacco and earth with a hint of white pepper on the retrohale. As the cigar developed, rich leather and wood joined the profile as well, always with a touch of pepper. The smoke remained thick and plentiful throughout. About halfway in, an intriguing burnt marshmallow taste flitted in and out of the profile, complimenting the rich earth and wood. The marshmallow eventually transformed into a rich butter towards the end of the smoke. The body hung right around a medium+ for the entire smoke.

Value : 4.5 out of 5 stars /> A soft pack of five Originals will set you back about $10 or so. At around $2 a stick, the price-to-richness ratio is off the charts! The loose draw forced me to smoke this stick slowly, and it lasted me almost exactly an hour.

Overall Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars /> If you’re looking for a “pretty” cigar, look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for what may be the richest cigar you’ve ever smoked, the J. Fuego Sangre de Toro Original should be your next purchase. The construction and appearance issues, other than forcing me to smoke slowly, did not affect the pleasure of smoking this cigar. This stick is among the best short smokes I’ve ever tried.

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href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/j-fuego/j-fuego-sangre-de-toro-original" >J. Fuego Sangre de Toro Original

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M. Germany

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Zack

style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Appearance: 3 out of 5 stars />If we reflect back, the href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/cain/cain-daytona" >Cain Daytona, and the href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/oliva/cain-habano-double-toro" >Habano, were both beautiful cigars. Unfortunately, the Maduro was a Monet amongst Rembrandt’s. It looks great from far away, but upon closer inspection, the wrapper is sub-par. The cap is sloppily placed on the head, and the veins do not align. There is even a slight gap in the wrapper towards the foot that is hap-hazardly repaired with a glob of rollers glue. The wrapper has very large veins on one side, but it’s silky smooth on the other. On the positive, it is wonderfully toothy, and it dons a beautiful oily sheen. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Appearance: 4 out of 5 stars />The dark brown maduro wrapper is very nice. It has no veins throughout it and has a couple of lighter spots. There are a couple spots that look like the wrapper was scratched a few times, but it isn’t anything big. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Construction: 4 out of 5 stars />Unlike its counterparts, this smoke was much more tightly rolled. There was almost no give throughout the entire cigar. Aside from the cosmetic flaws, this smoke seems to be pretty well put together. When I cut the cap and took a pre-lit draw, I caught a few stray hangers on the tongue. Also, I noticed some very large veins in the filler leaves, which worried me about the burn of this cigar. The cigar lit itself practically, requiring minimal effort, and it maintained a moderately even burn throughout. The ash, unfortunately, didn’t hang around very long. In fact, it fell off the first time I gently laid this thing down to rest. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Construction: 2.5 out of 5 stars />The cap is perfectly flush. The cigar itself is very solid, not one soft spot. The cigar cut clean and was very easy to light. The draw was very easy throughout the stick, but that’s what you will get most times with a 60 gauge cigar. The burn, however, was terrible. It was uneven throughout most of the stick and required a couple touch ups. The ash was different, it was marbled gray, black and red. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Flavor: 5 out of 5 stars />Kaboom! What, did you expect anything else? This thing is just like all of its brothers and sisters, a smokeable stick of dynamite. Hell, this thing was spicy even before I lit it up. Pre-light I noticed nuances of earth, pepper, and a surprising milk chocolate. Upon sparking this bad boy up, it evolved into dried leaves, more pepper, and espresso. The maduro wrapper really throws this thing into left field, as it almost seems to tame it. For a moment, I find myself thinking that even a novice could enjoy this. Wrong! Second third, Kaboom again! This thing just gets richer and richer, and maintains a medium to full body charisma throughout. Thank god I just had a full meal. Oh, and for a pairing suggestion, Dogfish Head Raison D’ Etre is a perfect choice. You can’t do scotch with this thing, you may not live to tell about it. Surprisingly, the final third calms down and develops into a rich Columbian coffee delight. Hold the cream and sugar…. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Flavor: 5 out of 5 stars />There were some sweet chocolate notes right off of the light, along with a little spice. Then some oak flavors came out about an inch in or so. By halfway, the body becomes very earthy, without losing any of the chocolate notes from before. There was also a slight coffee flavor that came out. The combination of chocolate and bitter coffee is a flavor that I like. The finish was very sweet and very earthy. There was still a little bit of spice on the finish, but it wasn’t bad. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Value: 4 out of 5 stars />Aside from my disappointment with the appearance and construction of this cigar, it delivers in the most important areas. Flavor, body, and value. It reminded me a lot of the href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/casa-magna/casa-magna-colorado" >Casa Magna Colorado, which is a slightly higher price point. At under 7 bucks, I can’t complain whatsoever. However, I wouldn’t buy a whole box of these. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Value: 4 out of 5 stars />The way I see it now, is that $6-$7 for a cigar isn’t bad. When I am looking at a cigar of this size, I almost always am looking at this price range. So in that aspect the price point is spot on. style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Overall: 4 out of 5 stars />I struggled with this rating, but it truly deserves it. Again, it excels in the most important areas. Appearance isn’t everything, but I do find it somewhat important. When you go to your tobacconist to pick one of these up, which I whole-heartedly recommend, make sure you look at every last one of them to find that special gem. Cain, href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/category/oliva" >Oliva, and Studio Tobac in general don’t seem to have any seconds for sale anywhere I have looked. This tells me that they may be mixed in with the rest of them. This is not to say that this is fact, but I don’t see how they could let this one slide. On a final note, this nicotine buzz is wicked… style="border-top:1px solid; width: 50%;" valign="top" align="left">Overall: 4 out of 5 stars />I loved the flavor of this cigar. The only downfall was the construction. I know that the burning wasn’t due to my humidor because the other cigars I have smoked in the past week have burned perfectly. I think that perhaps the tobacco wasn’t packed evenly. But this was one of, if not the best tasting Cains that I have smoked.
04
Oct

href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/cigar/cain-maduro-double-toro-b.jpg" title="Cain Maduro Double Toro" rel="lightbox"> class="aligncenter" width="450" src="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/cigar/cain-maduro-double-toro.jpg" alt="Cain Maduro Double Toro" height="190" />

Origin : Nicaragua src="http://www.cigarinspector.com/images/brand/cain.jpg" class="alignright" alt="Cain Cigars" width="200" height="46" /> /> Format : Corona /> Size : 6 x 60 /> Wrapper : Brazilian Maduro /> Binder : Nicaragua /> Filler : Nicaraguan Ligero /> Hand-Made /> Price : ~$6-7 each /> href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/buy-cain-maduro" class="extravaganza" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">More info about purchasing Cain Maduro cigars…

Today, we are reviving our dual reviews concept – below is a review of the Cain Maduro Double Toro done by href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/author-m-germany" >M. Germany and href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/author-zack" >Zack. Enjoy!

M. Germany: Well, I enjoyed the href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/cain/cain-daytona" >Cain Daytona so much that I just had to pick up the Straight Ligero Maduro. Then, Zack wrote a href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/oliva/cain-habano-double-toro" >fantastic review about the Double Toro Habano. So, now we bring you a wham bam double review slam. Hopefully, this smoke will deliver an equal tobacco love affair vibe. href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/category/cain" >Cain is known for its straight-to-the-gut, power packed, full bodied / flavored awesomeness. Please Cain, don’t let us down.

Zack: Last week I was asked to do a dual review along with M. Germany. This was the first time an opportunity like this came up for me, so I had to take it. We decided to do the Cain Maduro because within the last week, we had each reviewed a different Cain. So I was excited to dive into this cigar because the maduro wrapper is a personal favorite of mine.

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style="border: 0px solid; width: 100%;" border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="5">

target="_blank" href="http://www.cigarstash.com" >CigarStash.com – the ultimate cigars shopping tool!

/> /> Post from href="http://www.cigarinspector.com" >CigarInspector.com

href="http://www.cigarinspector.com/cain/dual-review-cain-maduro-double-toro" >Dual Review: Cain Maduro Double Toro

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20
Sep

www.cheaphumidors.com Smooth and creamy on the draw with an herbal, bitter finish on the second and final thirds. Best paired with a sweet coffe drink.

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